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CARA LANE CAPE: This is Cara Lane Cape and today I will be interviewing Judge Paul Isaacs, past Public Advocate for the Department of Public Advocacy. We are here in Judge Isaacs Office today in Georgetown, Kentucky. It is September 13, 2012, and this interview with Judge Isaacs is in regards to the history of the DPA, as well as, his involvement and experiences within the agency. Judge Isaacs tell us a little bit about your career work.

JUDGE PAUL ISAACS: You mean what I've done since I've been an adult?

CAPE: Yes.

ISAACS: Well after I graduated from law school I worked for a couple of years with the University of Kentucky, trying to setup a program where law students and architecture students worked on projects in Eastern Kentucky, in rural poverty areas, to help those in that area. We tried very hard to get a program 1:00setup, it wasn't successful, but we did get some people. We got one person who was a Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, I can't remember what they called him, but he got a grant from the Kennedy Foundation to work down there. That's the first thing I did. I was housed in the Architecture School, so on my resume it says I was an Instructor in Architecture. Everybody says, what do you know about architecture, I know nothing about architecture that was my role there. After that I went to work for a program that provided attorneys for juveniles in sixteen counties surrounding Fayette County. I worked there until the public defender system started and then I came to work for the public defender system in January 1, 2:001973. I worked there until, I can't remember the dates too well on these, but I went from there to the Justice Cabinet as Assistant General Counsel, eventually became General Counsel of the Justice Cabinet. Then I came back to the Public Defender's Office as Public Advocate. I was there from '83 till '91, I think. I went back to Justice as General Counsel, then became Secretary of the Justice Cabinet, was the Commissioner of the State Police, then left there after the Jones Administration and went to Administrative Office of the Courts. I became Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. I retired from state government and ran for judge, and that's where I am now. So you can see I can't 3:00keep a job.

CAPE: And you're judge over what counties?

ISAACS: Scott, Bourbon, and Woodford, the 14th Judicial Circuit.

CAPE: How did you become the Public Advocate?

ISAACS: I was appointed by Governor Brown. I think I was the first one that went through the Commission process, maybe the second one, I can't remember. I was one of the names recommended to Governor Brown and was appointed by Governor Brown to serve as Public Advocate.

CAPE: What made you want to take on the responsibility?

ISAACS: Well, I'd been there when it first started. I was third, Bill Ayer was first, Dave Murrell was second, and I think I was the third attorney hired in the Public Defender System when we first started. I had seen it developed. I 4:00always had a great interest in it.It was interesting. When I was in law school, one of my good friends in law school was a man named Larry Greathouse. We talked about how much we needed a public defender system in Kentucky in law school and what a great thing it would be. Larry very wisely ignored some political advice I gave him and got very much involved in the Wendell Ford Campaign, became Wendell Ford's General Counsel and was very instrumental in working with Governor Ford to get the new public defender system started. So, I went to Larry and said I'd like to be a part of that and he helped me get a job. So, I had a great interest in this and wanted to see it work. I thought it was important and 5:00from everything in my career, I've done a lot of things, but I still think, know, and realize that for the system to work you have to have good attorneys on both sides, who are dedicated to the pursue of justice. You can only have that when both sides have resources. It is important that the defense have good resources, good attorneys, and I wanted to make sure that system continued, and it did well.

CAPE: What was your vision for the Department?

ISAACS: Well, I would say the broad vision was to make sure that everybody in Kentucky was brought into court for potential incarceration or involuntary hospitalization, or whatever denial of their liberty, has an attorney, who is a 6:00good attorney, effective, and represents them to the fullest of ability under the law.

CAPE: What were the biggest challenges that you faced?

ISAACS: In government you learn to operate with limited resources , so they coin money just to make sure you have enough money. So there's always a resource problem. At the time we had contract attorneys and we had full-time attorneys. There was a problem with getting adequate pay for the contract attorneys, to make sure they adequately compensated for their work. They weren't, and a lot of them did this more out of a sense of duty than for the pay. I wanted to make sure that they were adequately paid. I wanted to make sure that the attorneys 7:00who were working full-time were paid a good salary, a salary commensurate with their education. So we could get the best and the brightest in the public defender office.

CAPE: Who were your political supports or enemies?

ISAACS: I don't know that I had any enemies, if I did. To be honest with you I never truly tried to concentrate on that. You can't worry about your enemies; you have to develop your friendships. There were legislators who understood what we were trying to do, they were helpful. Senator Moloney was very helpful. He was head of the budget committee. I always had bosses ahead of meand I was under 8:00a Secretary who was supportive and who to try to advance our cause, even though some of them really didn't. We were sort of an anomaly.We were in Public Protection and we weren't like anybody else that they had there. But they were supportive. The Governor's Office generally was supportive, although, they were not as directly.There was one layer between me and the Governor's Office, so the contact wasn't as much as I had contact in the later times. But I think certainly the Commission as always very supportive. The Bar was supportive. I think sometimes you had to explain to individual legislators why this was 9:00important. I never looked at them as being enemies. They were just people who didn't understand the process. So I try to approach it by trying to make them understand why this was important, rather than making this, sort of adversarial. I would always get the question, well why should I pay for a criminal's lawyer? Well, you take that as something or somebody saying they're really fighting you or you can say this person just needs to understand. So that's the way I tried to approach it and we did ok I think.

CAPE: What program changes or organizational changes did you make during your term?

ISAACS: I think there were a couple of organizational changes if I remember correctly. We changed the structure of the trial attorneys. I think we first looked at some regionalization, if I remember correctly, trying to get some 10:00structure in that and also the regional attorneys would have role with not only their full-time offices, but the contract attorneys in that area. That is the biggest change that I remember off the top of my head. He (Mr. Monahan) was there; he could probably tell you more than I can . He's younger, he can remember better.

CAPE: Of course, I know there was limited funding and workload realities; what were those like doing your tenure.

ISAACS: Anybody that worked in the public defender system, the full-time people and the contract people, both had heavy caseloads. The reality is that the vast majority of people who come into court and our criminal justice system do not have resources. The public defender system gets the majority of them. There were 11:00many problems with caseloads. I have always been frustrated and we tried to address this some way, when I was there and it's never been successful, because the institution is developed and you can't really fight it. I don't think we count cases right in this state. We never have and that's not the public defenders fault. The court system does it, the prosecutors do it, everybody does it, the only reason they do it, is it's easy. If you just count cases, you really don't know what's going on and the truth of the matter. What you are saying is a DUI or Alcohol Intoxication has the same value as a capital case, 12:00they're one. Well, everybody knows that's not true. But we make all our decision based on that because we all count cases in every place, I said, we really need to take the time and set down and do a weighted caseload. I tried to do that, but we never could get enough money and information together to really do it. Even if we had, the problem was we would be judging ourselves by different standards than everybody else was judging themselves. So that put us at a disadvantage, but really if anybody, and I'm sort of preaching now and not giving you oral history. It would be worth the State's time and effort to go back and give somebody the responsibility of looking at it, in terms of public defenders, prosecutors, judges and resources. But I don't think it will happen 13:00because the other way is too institutionalized and too easy. Enough of that, we'll move one .

CAPE: Was you ever able to make a stab at it?

ISAACS: We tried to do some work on that and I think it became obvious that even if we were able to develop that it wasn't really going to help us to get more funding. So, you can only swim upstream for a certain amount of time then you realize it is not going to work, so we didn't follow through.

CAPE: What are memorable cases that took place while you were Public Advocate?

ISAACS: There was lot of death penalty work in that timeframe. They were the 14:00cases.Trying to find attorneys for death penalty cases was difficult because private attorneys did not want to get involved because the pay was so dismal. We didn't have the resources in our local offices or in Frankfort to cover all the criminal capitol cases. Trying to balance all those things and trying to get adequate counsel for those cases was a very difficult process. I know later you were going to ask me about the Capitol Resource Center, that's one of the things that we try to do to answer that problem. Those were the cases that took aninordinate amount of time because just what I spoke about, trying to find an 15:00attorney, trying to get a competent attorney. Judges were down my throat about you need to get a lawyer down here. Lawyers were not willing to do it. I will have to say in some cases, particularly a case in Paducah were the Judge ordered me to jail because I didn't have an attorney for there and nobody would take it. A private member of the Bar, an elderly member of the Bar, who was a very competent and sorry I can't remember his name off the top of my head right now, who had practiced law for many years and had been a very experience criminal defense lawyer called me up and says Paul, I will do it for free. Those were the 16:00type of things that makes you proud of the legal profession because he stepped up to the plate and he took it, and it was a very difficult case. Just sort of a side issue, there is a picture over here with Ed Johnstone who's a Federal Judge, the Deputy Warden of Pewee Valley Barbara Jones, and myself. I was no longer Public Advocate and I can't remember where I was, I think I was in the Justice Cabinet. They had a little ceremony about the prison litigation involving Pewee Valley, which I was involved in representing the State, and Judge Johnstone presided over it. So, we were all up there at that thing.There 17:00was this woman who came up to me and said I've never had a chance to thank you. She was the defendant in that case in Paducah. She said you stood up for us when nobody else would and got us a lawyer. That was sort of a neat thing.

CAPE: Tell us a little bit about the development of the Capitol Resource Center.

ISAACS: If I remember, that was a grant that we got from the Feds that came out of the, I think it may have come out of the Federal Courts budget, because the Federal Courts were getting a lot of habeas about capitol cases. They wanted to try and do something to make sure that they had better lawyers. In fact, Ed 18:00Johnstone, I think was one of the people who helped us get that, if I'm remembering correctly. But I know it was a grant that we got from the Federal Government; it may have even come through the Justice Cabinet or through the court system. The Federal Courts were very much involved in trying to get these things setup at the State level. The ABA was involved in it. We had a good reputation despite resources, in the forefront of capitol cases and trying to find competent attorneys. So we were one of the few. I think just a few states got the grants first and we were one of them. We were one of the few to get one.

CAPE: In December of '83, there's an interview in the Advocate, where you 19:00stated one of your primary objectives for the 1984 General Assembly was the passage of the Bill of Rights for the developmentally disabled legislation? Tell us a little bit about that.

ISAACS: One of the responsibilities of the Department that it had expanded while I was gone and was there when I came back was the providing assistance to people who were developmentally disabled, that was another part of the Department. It was not just providing lawyers; it was also providing people who would assist family members in dealing with creating plans with the school and developing alternatives to a hospitalization. There had been realization that just putting people with lack of development in the mental areas of institutions 20:00was just warehousing them. We were just trying to get alternative services for them, make sure that they get the competent education services that they need. So we were trying to, that was a very important part of our job. When you get into at that particular time you found that there were several large institutions in this State that were sort of warehousing these people. There had been some litigation raising the issue of whether they were entitled to counsel before they were policed into institutions. The Federal Court ruled that they were, so we wanted to make sure we got the resources necessary to provide that representation. There were some clear rights that they had to address their 21:00issues as developmentally disabled. So they were trying to get that passed. I think we did get funding for representation.

CAPE: A month after taking office you had an interview in the Advocate where you said one of the most important goals you hope to achieve was to narrow some of the division you saw between full-time public advocates and the private bar. Tell us about your efforts.

ISAACS: Well, I always thought that the public defender system's biggest advocate should be the Bar. Number one: the whole system was created to make sure that you couldn't be forced to represent someone for no pay, which had been the law in Kentucky for many years.Lawyers were subsidizing the criminal justice 22:00system in a way that was not equitable. Now that we have this system that doesn't mean they no longer have any responsibility. They're still all lawyers and as a lawyer, I've always taken the position and I was taught this in law school that being a lawyer is a privilege. It is a privilege granted to few people and with that privilege comes responsibility to protect the justice system, and that means the criminal justice system too. So I think lawyers have a strong requirement that they be committed to do that and one of the ways they can do that is to help the public defender system. We're dealing with a mixed system.We're dealing with private attorneys who are doing these cases, which by the way, I think it's always good to have private attorneys for one really 23:00important reason. I'm an anomaly, not too many public defenders are elected judges. They normally come from the private bar. If your private bar is not involved in the criminal justice system at all, you're going to have judges who know nothing about the criminal justice system when they become judges. Now that may be good in a way because it is like a tabula rasa, and you get to arrive on a blank slate. But I don't think it's a good thing, I think that they need to be aware of what the duties are and how important it is to treat people fairly and justly, and understand people's rights. So I think it is important and I'm glad to see that the Department continues to use them in conflict cases because I think that's important. I would hate to see us have only two classes of criminal 24:00defense lawyers, public defenders and people who do white collar crime for big bucks. So I think what I was saying and realized, when you interview somebody a month after taking office you're probably going to get a lot of naïve statements because you don't really know exactly , although you think you do. I wanted to make sure we had good relationships, that we were working together, that we were on the same page in everything that we did, so that they could be our support when we needed it, and many times they did.

CAPE: You have a special interest in juveniles; tell us about that in terms of 25:00your leadership of the DPA.

ISAACS: We were able to get some extra funding one time because I was able to convince the legislature that we needed more funding to provide counsel for people in juvenile cases and used the enactment of a new juvenile code to say and get that. I had worked with the people who developed the new juvenile code in developing the language and everything, and participated in that. So I had some way of communicating with them our needs and then that was one of the things that helped us get some increased funding.

CAPE: Tell us about DPA receiving a grant from the Developmentally Disability Council to represent individuals who are labeled as developmentally disabled at 26:00sentencing and to provide alternate sentencing proposals to the court in order to divert those individuals from prison.

ISAACS: To be honest with you, I had forgotten.I know at one point we knew we were very interested in trying to find a way to develop alternative sentencing programs.When I sit back and I looked at our representation of people in court, the vast majority of cases were resolved by guilty plea; very, very few cases went to trial. Actually today, as a judge, it's even a smaller number that go to trial. The number of trials has been constantly going down, in civil and criminal. So, it dawned on me that are we really providing the type of representation that we need to these people that are pleading, because the real 27:00thing in a plea agreement is what's going to happen next. Do we need some resources that came help us develop some alternatives to prison for these people and to keep them out of prison as a part of sentencing? It may come as a surprise, but I was in government for over thirty years and from the day I step into government till the day I left, the big problem confronting Kentucky was prison overcrowding. It has always been. Everybody is looking for the silver bullet, there is no silver bullet, the Lone Ranger never existed, but they keep looking for it and they should. It is a real problem. That's the way we approached this. Developmentally disabled people in prison are a very special problem. It is a problem for them, it is a problem for the prison, and it is 28:00probably not serving much good to anybody. So using those things, we were trying to develop new mechanisms that we could use to help in that, but also in a broader sense, everybody that we represented to bring a new resource. At that particular point in time, there was an organization called The Sentencing Project in Washington that we worked very closely with that and the projectwas very interested in helping defense attorneys develop.They were professional, most of who work in the white collar crime area, which were hired by attorneys to come in and develop alternatives to present to the court for their clients who were white collar criminals and who were trying to avoid prison. I thought 29:00they can do it, so can we, so that was part of it.

CAPE: What effect did the death penalty representation have on the DPA during you tenure?

ISAACS: Well it was, as I said earlier, it was probably the biggest problem that we faced in terms of resources, trying to find people. I think if you look back, there was much more active death penalty litigation at that particular time than there is now. I don't know if the numbers are the same or not, but it certainly seemed to be more intense and trying to find resources for all of those cases was very difficult, at a time when we had not very much money. I think the maximum by statue that we could pay anybody was $1,250 for a death 30:00penalty case. Trying to deal with those was a major, major problem. It consumed, I don't know the percentage, but a great deal of my time and the time of everybody in the office.

CAPE: Was there any issues that you was involved with nationally as far as public defenders or organizations?

ISAACS: The Sentencing Project was probably the one that I was the most involved in nationally, in terms of trying to educate public defenders and other attorneys about developing alternatives to prison for their clients.

CAPE: When you left DPA, the defender budget had almost doubled over the years you served as Public Advocate; tell us how you accomplished that increase.


ISAACS: Just developing friendships, I mean developing relationships with legislators, with people. I would say that I probably had it easier than some of them. At the time I was in government, there were a lot more legislators who were lawyers, which is starting to decline. I remember when it went from mostly lawyers making up the majority of legislators and then it was insurance agents. I don't know what it is now , but I was at a time when there were a lot of lawyers and they understood the system. Within the political context, they tried to be as supportive as possible.

CAPE: What are you most proud of that occurred while you were with the Department?

ISAACS: I don't know that I could say one thing. I think the fact that we were able to increase resources was very important thing, as well as, the fact that 32:00we were able to put together a special unit to help in the death penalty cases. I think I'm proud of the representation that the attorneys gave, that I had nothing to do with, but Miranda gave them a framework were they could represent their clients effectively. Senator Moloney, when he left the Senate they had a thing for him in Lexington. He said to me in that speech, publically, one thing you could be proud of Paul is that no one was executed on your watch. I don't know that I can say that I can take credit for that, that was a fluke of history. I think we did a good job and I think that the attorneys made a good 33:00effort to keep that from happening, but I don't think I can take credit for that. I just think I was fortunate.

ED MONAHAN: Paul, when you came to the Department, could you talk a little bit about what area you specialized in?

ISAACS: Well, I was an appellate attorney like almost everybody was. Also, I dealt with contract attorneys all over the state, especially people in areas where I happened to know them personally. It is amazing how many people, attorneys I met all across the state that time that I continue to run into. Well, I don't run into them anymore because we're all getting old and retiring and dying and everything, but I was a vast network of attorneys throughout the state we dealt with. One area that I dealt with more than anybody else in the 34:00office, I was sort of the liaison with the prisons. We didn't have offices in the prisons then, in fact we established the first one when we hired Dave Norat and put him up in LaGrange. Both of the prisons had what they called Inmate Legal Services Programs, where they had inmate lawyers, who had law libraries that they operated. I was sort of the liaison with those offices and I would go to the prisons and meet with them on a regular basis. I was in constant correspondence with them. One of the interesting things that developed; at that time the prisons in America would ship people around that they thought were troublemakers. You would send your troublemakers to somebody and they would send 35:00you theirs, and we got a bunch of prisoners from Missouri at Eddyville. Dave Murrell and I developed a friendship with a man that was from Missouri.He was one of our exchange students, as we called him that worked in the legal services program.A man by the name of Walter Nolin. Mr. Nolin's long dead, but he was 72 years old. Everybody in the office had a relationship with Mr. Nolin, but Dave and I were probably closer. I had a lot of correspondence. I have a copy of all the correspondence that he sent me. I've always kept them because they were very special. He was a very interesting man. He was a son of a lawyer; he grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He became a pipe-fitter, didn't go to law school or 36:00anything. Then he fell in with the mob in Chicago. He was very much a part of that seen. He stood trial five times for five capitol cases . He said they never got me. He had a theory. He said I always went into court with two lawyers, a trial lawyer and an appellate lawyer. The trial lawyer tried the case, the appellate lawyer set there and watched. He said if they convicted me, we got it reversed (laughs). Very interesting man and he would sit and talk to me about his days as a member of the mob in Chicago and Illinois. I remember one letter he said, I was quite wild in my youthand I'm now 72 and very conservative 37:00(laughs). He finally got out of prison. He was very good friends, oh I can't remember his name, with the priest from St. Louis that started the Dismas Houses, and they were very close friends. When Walter got out of jail, he took him in and helped him until he died. He wasn't in prison when he died fortunately. It was very interesting, but that was one of my first things, was sort of the liaison with the prisons.

MONAHAN: You indicated Paul, that you were the third attorney hired by Tony Wilhoit, the first Public Advocate. Do you recall people hired after you?

ISAACS: I'm trying to remember who was next Anna Isaacs transferred from the 38:00Attorney General's Office to Public Defender. Vince Aprile came after Anna. I am trying to think, it seemed like there was somebody between me and Anna.

MONAHAN: Joe Jarrell, Jim Early.

ISAACS: Joe came a little later; yeah I had forgotten about Jim Early, the telephone man. Jim Early was an interesting attorney. If he knew the law, it was an accident . He was not a legal scholar, but he was a good trial lawyer. He was a very good trial lawyer and he was very convincing of people. He tried cases by the seat of his pants, but he was pretty effective at it. He could get on the 39:00phone and worked miracles. He would get people out of jail just by calling up somebody on the phone, it was amazing. He had the gift. Jim was hired first as a clerk and then he passed the Bar.He was around almost for the beginning. He had worked for Tony in his law office before Tony became Public Advocate.

MONAHAN: Do you recall a case or two that you provided the representation in, that you're particularly proud of?

ISAACS: Well, Vince Aprile and I tried a murder case in Whitesburg, where we got a directed verdict. You don't get many directed verdicts on a murder case. I have to say it wasn't our great skill, as much as, it was that they totally 40:00screwed this case up and had not done any investigation. The kid should have never been indicted for murder, wouldn't have been indicted for murder in most counties. By the way, was totally innocent, which is the scariest case in the world. It was a difficult case in a way. His father was in prison; his mother I think was in prison. He was living with his grandmother. He was accused of killing his grandmother. The community was very worked up over this case. They had been convinced that he had killed his grandmother, but he hadn't, probably killed herself accidently. He was charged with murder by arson because she died in a fire and part of the evidence against him was they had seen him with a gas 41:00can a couple days before the murder, or before the death, it wasn't a murder. He mowed yards (laughs), that's the reason he had the gas can. We were able to show, actually I'm not sure this would have come out, because we never had to put on our defense, but we had evidence that he had actually dragged her off the railroad tracks one time in front of a train. So, he had saved her life. She was hooked on pills. One of the first cases I've ever seen of that. She was hooked on barbiturates and she called them little red devils. She would get up in the morning and pop a bunch of those pills. She was living in a tar-paper shack, bare electrical wiring, wiring that wasn't even covered. She had a hot-plate. She would take sticks of wood and put it on that hot-plate until it started 42:00smoldering and putting it in a wood stove to start a fire. She had already burned off three of her fingers because she passed out one morning, fell on that hot-plate, burned her fingers, and they had to be amputated. We had the medical records. We also had the records of how many pills she bought.They had been prescribed by a local doctor who was subpoenaed to testify for the defense and was one of the most nervous people you've ever seen in the courtroom (laughs), and was probably the gladdest person in the world when we got a directed verdict. He didn't have to testify. She was getting a lot of pills, a lot of pills. Well, the other evidence is that during the night of the fire, the neighbors had heard her screaming, let me go, let me go, don't tie me down, let 43:00me go, let me go. But nobody could place him in the house that night and they could not prove how the fire started because the owner of the house, the day of the fire, had a bulldozer come in and doze the scene and get rid of everything, because that house did not meet electrical codes. He didn't want anybody to know what was going on. The reason we got a directed verdict is they couldn't prove that there was arson. If there is no arson, there's no crime, as it was death by arson. Judge F. Byrd Hogg gave us a directed verdict.

MONAHAN: About what year would that had been?

ISAACS: I don't know.


MONAHAN: '73, '74?

ISAACS: No, it was after that; let's see I left in '76, well it could have been '74, '75.

MONAHAN: You had a particular passion for juvenile cases.Are there other things that you'd like to talk about in terms of you involvement in creating juvenile code that remains a superior code nationally?

ISAACS: Well, I stated out representing people and kids in juvenile court. That is what I did for two years before I came to the Department. So I had a real interest in juvenile law. When there was a decision made that they were going to 45:00create a group to look at the juvenile code, I was chosen to be on that. I worked very closely with a group of people on that code because I have expressed interest in that area of law and worked in that area of law. I assume that is the reason they chose me , I don't know. We were trying to get a definitive code that laid out precisely what the procedures were and what the substantive law was in juvenile law, which had been a little vague in Kentucky. Also, to write in the constitutional requirements that had been there for some time, to make 46:00sure they were recognizing statutory law. Because one of the things I found out practicing juvenile law is that not many people, let me put it this way, it's hard for people to understand that. When I first started practicing law most of the people I practiced in front of were not lawyers. They hadn't gone to law school. The county judge executive was the juvenile judge and there was no requirement that he be a lawyer. weren't. In fact, one of them one time when I brought in event sheet to show him a case, told me that he wasn't going to allow no magazine law in his courtroom. In other words, if it wasn't in one of those bound books, it was no good. So that was the level that you were dealing with. Now that changed with the Judicial Article and that was another major change. I 47:00always used to say that I came into the practice of law at a good time because since I have been practicing law, we've had no-fault insurance, no-fault divorce, the Penal Code, the juvenile code, the Judicial Article. The state of the law when I started and since I've been a lawyer has changed immensely. Every time I take a guilty plea and I go through my colloquy and I start talking about, do you realize I'm not bound by the Commonwealth's recommendation, but if I don't follow the Commonwealth's recommendation, I'll allow you to withdraw your plea? As a young public defender, we raised that issue time after time after time with the appellate courts and we lost, we never won a case on that, 48:00but it is now the law in Kentucky. As I read through that it's always sort of amusing to me. I would say now we litigated that. We never won a case, but it's now the law of Kentucky. So one of the advantages I have being an old fart, is that I can look back and see it's not where we want to be, it's not where we need to be, but I've seen a lot of changes and a lot of good changes. As a judge, I get to see some of those things that we worked so hard and we thought we were losing. We thought we weren't winning these cases, that it just seemed like you were batting your head against a brick wall, but it's now the law in Kentucky. Not because of judicial fiat, well in a way because they changed the 49:00rules. Eventually the court started saying, yeah that's run right. It's not right that you play this little charade, like I used to as a young attorney tell my client now their recommending this, but the judge doesn't have to take it and if he doesn't take it, we're stung, but I've got to tell you when you go in there, you've not been promised anything, even though you have been because if you say that it's not going to be good.He can't take your plea if you said you were promised something. It was a charade and now we don't have to do that. Everything is out front. So things may seem not very important in a way, but it changes the way the system works and it gives it a lot more credibility. So those are the things that I think really the public defenders probably get full 50:00credit for, but really if it hadn't been there, probably some of those things would not have happened.

MONAHAN: So you really see that as a contribution to the improvement of justice in the Commonwealth?

ISAACS: Oh yeah, absolutely.

MONAHAN: Now you served under Tony Wilhoit, the first Public Advocate, any thoughts in terms of his leadership.

ISAACS: Well, I think he was uniquely qualified because he knew everybody all over the state and he had a relationship with them. In fact, the fact that he had been county attorney helped because he was given the job of setting up a public defender system in a 120 counties through local Fiscal Courts. The Fiscal Court is represented by the county attorney. Going to magistrates all over 51:00Kentucky and saying you need to create this system and we'll help you pay for some of it, but you have to pay for part of it, it's going to provide an attorney for these criminals. What!?! But because of his relationship with county attorneys, those county attorneys would stand up and say, I know Jim Bob that's not a good idea and you don't like it, but if you all don't do it, we can't prosecute these cases, we'll have to shut down. They said, Oh! That was very helpful in getting the system setup, his relationship with members of the local bar, all over the State, convincing them agree to do this and step up to the plate. We're not going to pay you a whole lot of money, but you're going to get more money than you've ever gotten before . I think his skills in setting 52:00that up were immense and made it happen quicker than I think anybody else could have. I think his vision was and I think it was right; even though we're all over the state and we have people who are private attorneys also, we need to consider ourselves as the biggest law firm in Kentucky and that's the way we're going to operate. I think that was important to have that attitude, that you saw yourself as lawyer, as a part of a system throughout the state. I thought that was brilliant.

MONAHAN: Other thoughts in terms of your leadership or the Kentucky Public Defender Program that you'd like history to know about?

ISAACS: I enjoyed it, I liked it. I worked with good people. It had it frustrations, but I never had a job that didn't. I never have regretted doing it 53:00and I'm very glad that I got an opportunity to do it.